Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Direct reference and counterfactuals

If I understand Lewis's counterfactuals correctly, 'if X were the case, then Y' is evaluated with respect to the nearest set of possible worlds such that X is the case. What happens with counterfactuals whose antecedent is 'If I were you'? There aren't any worlds in which I am you. I don't imagine there are any worlds where our counterparts are identical either. Do these all turn out to have false antecedents? How about ones like 'If Harry were Sally', or any that have directly referential terms in the antecedent like that? It is ad hoc to come up with a special semantics for those cases, but they don't seem to fit the mold of the 'If F were G' cases.

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